Responsible Mining Evolution in the Philippines

Mining Responsible

By RevDev Review Committee 

In today’s modern world, humans need minerals. Mobile phones, TVs, air-conditioned homes, cookware and cars use metals like nickel, copper, zinc and platinum, among dozens of others. They’re mined from geological deposits, which run like seams, deep into the Earth’s crust. The quest for those minerals really damages the environment.

Negative impressions in mining industry due to irresponsible mining operations that degraded the quality of Environment is one of the reasons why there are anti-mining advocates. But, people must understand that Mining is not all about exploitation of natural resources, destruction of land vegetation and generation of pollution that purposely creates environmental havoc as what anti-mining advocates portray to people. Mining has its advantages and disadvantages and we cannot hide that fact.

Way back then, people who worked in mining industry including the permit holders, don’t really understand the effects of environmental degradation. Maybe, because of lack of technology to properly extract ore resources and poor quality of research on environmental protection during that time. In fact, mining is very irresponsible at its highest point that even policy makers allows mining companies to discharge or dump mine tailing and mine waste directly to seas. This activity smothers ocean habitat and leaches harmful chemicals and heavy metals that can poison marine life. Water, soil and air quality had been disregarded during that time as exchanged for economic gain.

Marcopper Pipes

In this modern era, mining industry, especially in the Philippines, had evolved a lot. Technological advancements through researches to combat environmental destructions are truly exceptional. As compared to previous approaches, the quality of water, air and land can now be determined in the field and in laboratory. Regular sampling of significant water and air parameters increased as Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) standard limit decreased.

Water Sampling Activity

The policies created by government, on the other hand, are really conservative today as compared before. Regular mining sites inspection conducted by the third party validators composed of government, public, private, non-government units (ngos) and religious organizations to mining site and affected communities for Safety and Health, Environment and Community Development activities by mining companies is truly in the highest degree. The government even developed a scorecard that when certain companies fall below 80 percent of its environmental, safety and health and community target compliances will be immediately subjected for penalties, fines and even closure. Also, the Philippine Government enacted a law that requires all large scall mining companies to be ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management System) certified.

Evolution of Mining (Safety and Health)

One miner we have interviewed said that responsible mining is possible and really exists. “Visit mining companies in Palawan and see for yourself”, he added.

The product of mining creates revenues through tax for our country and gives jobs for our people and that means a lot. Let’s not stereotype. Instead of bashing those miners, why not try to think a research or study that could help our miners to mitigate the impact of mining operations given that they are making it for their family and country. How about you, yes, you! what’s your contribution?

Image of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation from Mine to a Forest

For the information of interested parties, the principal laws that regulate the mining industry are Republic Act No. 7942, otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (the Mining Act), and its implementing rules and regulations, DENR Administrative Order No. 2010-21 (Mining Act IRR), both of which have not been amended in the past year. Likewise, there are recent DENR Administrative Orders (DAOs) that have been created and implemented.

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